ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - May 2000

Issue Highlight - The Oversight Fallacy
--- There is a persistent belief in this culture that when you have a problem, the way to solve it is to find blame, institute controls and watch it more closely. If there is violence in a community, we want more police. If someone is shot, if students aren't learning, if costs are high; we assign blame, pass a law, and watch like crazy.

In This Issue...
The Costs of a New Economy
Behavior Improves Quality
Art In Museum Exhibits
Heart Challenges Brain

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change

Heard on the Street
Diary of a Shutdown

Views for a Change
Consultant Q&A

David Farrell:
One of the pitfalls frequently mentioned by those implementing continuous quality improvement in higher education is the failure to include academic and service departments. This omission reinforces the notion that quality improvement is only for "them," further divides a frequently divided organization, and sows the seeds for the eventual abandonment of the effort.

Bureaucracy Elimination. I have seen in government and academia a focus on the elimination of "red tape." One organization made this a core of their improvement process, by providing everyone with a stamp for use on any bureaucratic document, continuous reviews by an executive group and a monthly newsletter highlighting examples of bureaucracy eliminated. The momentum developed was extraordinary and made believers out of skeptics.

Knowledge Sharing. Continuous improvement processes should include a culture and a methodology for improved sharing of knowledge and information.

Funding. Spurred on by tightening fiscal resources and demands for accountability by an increasingly diverse public, colleges and universities across the country see CQI as a possible remedy for their ills. Increased efficiencies, streamlined research, cost recovery and more even-handed allocation of resources are to be expected.

Customer Focus. Committee governance structures throughout academia have long been discussing how to address the diverse and often conflicting needs and expectations of its many customers. CQI will not offer a "magic bullet." It should however, provide a context, value system and structure that can raise the level of that inquiry and provide innovative new approaches.

Fact-based Decisions. Change results from decisions that are grounded in fact, not opinion or hierarchical power, and reflects a problem anticipation and prevention mentality. An institution practicing CQI seeks to empower its employees across all functions to confront organizational issues and it rewards its people accordingly.

Planning. Several universities have used break-through planning to examine critical processes, include all concerned constituencies and produce more accurate and effective short and long-range planning.

Curriculum Development. Many universities embarking on the CQI journey have learned much about organizational behavior and have discovered the benefits gained by adding this course of study to their curriculum.

Tenure. The traditional view of tenure may seem to discourage change by promoting the status quo. When viewed from a CQI perspective however, tenure could foster innovation and creativity by freeing faculty to take appropriate risks.

Culture. CQI fosters change in the organization's core values and the integration of CQI principles into its everyday way of doing business. It propagates a "quality service for all" attitude, which values all co-workers, students, supervisors and the external community.

While the above illustrate potential faculty and research WIIFMs, they should not be considered simply as "a priori" selling points. A better strategy is to listen to your people, understand their unique issues, and illustrate how CQI can address those issues.

--John Runyan Responds


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